Companies can implement both technological and human solutions to sift through the noise of all that information so that, should they be subject to litigation, the e-discovery process will be more manageable and efficient. Horrigan encourages a practical, hands-on approach to information management. “The idea is to move it from reactive e-discovery, to proactive information governance where you’re constantly governing and managing this data which you have,” he says, adding “and when the regulators come calling or you get the subpoena in the mail, it’s not a last-minute fire drill.”
Horrigan emphasizes that having a responsible records-management policy that includes routine disposition will make e-discovery much easier. “A general rule is, for almost any sort of information: if you can get rid of it, do get rid of it,” he says. “When I say, ‘if you can get rid of it,’ that means from both a business standpoint and a legal standpoint.”
When working with clients, Stainbrook takes a comprehensive and categorized approach to the data. “You should have broad categories of information, not individual document titles. It’s really challenging to apply a minute set of rules to a big set of information, to have to be able to classify down to the exact document type,” she says. “It’s our goal to have approximately 100 categories, maybe fewer, that cover everything that the organization keeps, from their corporate secretary records to their HR records to whatever their primary business is.”
While technology is crucial to a successful records management program, Horrigan emphasizes that people are ultimately the key. “We’re not at a stage yet where you can just click a button and have everything done. The tools can do pretty remarkable things that they couldn’t do just a few years ago, but the human interaction in this process is key,” he says.
Security Management spoke with one executive at a midsize retail company about the challenges of implementing this type of proactive disposition policy. This executive oversees the records management program at her business, and she was willing to discuss her experience in transitioning to a new policy as long as she and the company were not named.